Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Gray Skies And Storms Today Normal This Time Of Year

Gray Skies And Storms Today
Normal This Time Of Year

Have you been reading or listening to or watching the news?  On the US East Coast big storms lay down mounds of snow.  Normal, the storms are, but not with this intensity.  Around the globe - more storms.  Storms - not of weather only - that ravage populations.  Storms of revenge, storms of religious fervor, storms of oligarchies east and west. Political squabble storms: parties uniting (so they say) to continue a divide that generates their power (or appearances thereof).  Then there are the storms of pipelines and oil and gasoline, and the whose-water-is-it-anyway-mine-not-yours storms.  You know these storms, yes?  Storms that scream loudly and then trickle down to run along local sidewalks to murmur, "Hold your tongue because your neighbor (or your brother) might not like what you say (or think!), and you won't be welcome in this (my, his, our, their) neighborhood".  These storms, we read and hear about them by the bucket loads.  Well, yes - so long as we're not caught up in the storms of under inflated footballs.  After all, in the grand scheme of things, the NFL and the Lombardi Trophy really are what's important. 

On a recent morning walk I telephoned someone very dear to me.  During the conversation she said, "Education that creates debate is the best kind of education."  I wondered about that (still do).  I think I know what she meant, but I'm not so certain about that word debate. Often debate is geared solely at who will win and who will lose. Generally creating thicker walls, walls that obstruct communication, rarely does debate as we know it today generate commitments that resolve problems or establish common ground or learning or understanding or respect.   On the other hand, education that creates DIALOGUE - now, that's something worth considering.

It's getting close to springtime here in the western Northern Hemisphere.  Even with these gray skies.  The plumb tree outside my back yard poked forth its first white blossom two days ago, and communicated, "Change is always happening."  I'll soon be on a trip to the other side of the planet.  When I return the entire tree will look to be a giant cotton ball.  Nice, this blossoming!  No matter the winter, nature has its way of waking things up to remind us that life goes on - if we're present enough to notice.  In a few weeks a buddy of mine and I will head off to latitude 64o50'37" N to capture (hopefully) a glimpse of the aurora borealis.  Another of nature's communications: reminding that something is more profound and more important than the squabbling, positioning and battling over pandered points of view. As grand as we human beings are, we really are quite small though not as small as a plumb tree blossom, or the bee that will soon come to service it. 

Last month my granddaughter and I stole away for a few hours and took a ferryboat across San Francisco Bay: birthday celebration for her, just the two of us on a cold gray January afternoon.   The Bay was ours to enjoy, as were her burger and my crab sandwich at the waiting Ferry Building.  Before catching the boat home we stopped and stood in front of Mahatma Gandhi's statue.  I asked her, "Do you know who this person is?" "Nope," she replied.  Ah hah ... an opportunity to communicate anew ... and such fun this potpourri! 

Today, this afternoon, early into February 2015, I sit with a worn copy of a favorite book.  Gandhi's autobiography, "The Story Of My Experiments With Truth".  It pops open to page 287 and the words of a small frail bodied person who became revered and known as "Bapu" by scores of millions (though not with that as a goal in mind).  For a time, amidst many storms, he changed a wintered world into a springtime:

"I realized that the sole aim of journalism should be service.  The newspaper press is a great power, but just as an unchained torrent of water submerges whole countrysides and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled serves but to destroy.  If the control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control.  It can be profitable only when exercised from within.  If this line of reasoning is correct, how many of the journals in the world would stand the test?  But who would stop those that are useless?  And who should be the judge?  The useful and the useless must, like good and evil generally, go on together, and [MANKIND] must make his choice."

Can we, will we, communicate?

© Lance Giroux, February 2015

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